There is a teaching going around that it is bad to give an altar call, and that it is wrong, and even evil, to ask people to make a decision to accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.
I put this to Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum, the Jewish Bible teacher. He responded with scripture, saying: “Choose this day whom you will serve!” Indeed.
One of our favourite people, Barry Smith (now with the Lord), always gave an altar call when he came from his home in New Zealand to hold meetings in Britain. Barry saw many, many people come to accept the Lord Jesus. Many lives were transformed; souls were saved.
But now there is a wave of hyper Calvinism sweeping through many churches, with the thinking that we cannot choose, only God chooses. The teaching is that if He has chosen us, we will be saved regardless; if He has not chosen us, nothing can change that, because He is sovereign – it is all up to Him who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.
How I wish people would put Calvinism in the dustbin and just go by the Bible. Calvin was a French Catholic priest in the 16th century who turned against Catholicism and became a Protestant, but I cannot believe he was ever really converted to true Christianity. By their fruits you will know them!
Calvin ended up running the city of Geneva, Switzerland. His was a reign of terror, of torture, and long, slow executions by burning from the feet up. This is completely anti-Christian, anti-Jesus. The apostles didn’t behave like this at all! Jesus was gentle, loving, forgiving, kind to sinners.
He gave people a choice, but let them walk away if they did not agree with Him. He will rule with a rod of iron, yes – in the Millennium. But for now, we live in the age of grace, and we have free will. And we do not burn people to death for disagreeing with us or with the Bible.
Yes, God is indeed sovereign, and no one can come to the Lord Jesus unless the Father draw him, and He knows from the foundation of the world those who are His. But – He gives us free will ! He does not create people so that He can send most of them to Hell !
Don’t forget that Jesus opened the door of Heaven! The veil of theTemple was torn in two from the top down the moment He died.
And don’t forget His words (John 3:16-17): “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved!” God wants people saved - not condemned!
I thank God that I am one of the ‘who-so-evers’, a sinner who was lost, but came to know that the Bible is true and that the Lord Jesus died so that I could be forgiven. The stupendous immensity of this wondrous truth still amazes me, that God in Heaven could be so merciful, so forgiving, so kind to repentant sinners.
This did not happen for me at an altar call, but if it had, I would bless that day! Whether the gospel goes out with its offer of free salvation at an altar call, or on the doorstep, or however…it is just a chance for people to focus intently on the most important decision that they are ever called upon to make.
Will they trust Jesus for their salvation? Or will they trust in their own good works, which are like filthy rags to God? Will they put their faith in the Saviour, the Son of God, who died for us and rose from the dead? Or will they continue to put their faith in themselves?
You CAN choose Jesus, folks! You have free will. And Jesus said that whoever came to Him, He would never, never, never turn them away (John 6:37). Never. Here are some scriptures about choosing, from both old and new testaments:
Joshua 24:15 (Joshua, shortly before he died) “…choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Deut 30:19 (Moses) “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life…”
Deut 11:26 (Moses as the Israelites got ready to enter the land) “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse…”
1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came to all the people and said, “How long halt ye between two opinions?”
Romans 10:13 “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The message is: make up your minds, folks! Decide! Come to the right conclusion! How long will you dither, and shuffle God to one side in your life? Whom will you serve?
You could be assured of eternal salvation. You could be laying up precious treasure in Heaven, real treasure which you could enjoy for all eternity! This is not airy, fairy stuff. It is true; it is real; it is the most important decision you will ever make, affecting your life here and for all eternity!
Are you really going to snub God again by rejecting His Son, the Lord Jesus?
Then you won’t mind being thrown into Hell forever? You’re willing to take the risk? Many fools have done so, and now know better, but for them it is too late.
Today is the day of salvation; you might not get another day. You might not get another breath, for that matter! All you really have is the air that is in your lungs right now. You will exhale that, but whether you get to take another breath of air is only at God’s discretion. The air belongs to Him. You are using His air!
Choose this day who you will serve! As for me, I will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for all my sins.
As for Calvinism and the horrible reign of terror which the city of Geneva had to endure, have a look at this website http://www.biblelife.org/calvinism.htm
* And as for altar calls, I can't remember the last time our church had one, but the leaders often issue an open invitation for people to speak to them after the service if they want to accept Jrsus as their Saviour. There is always an opportunity to decide. We say yes or no to the Lord. We bend our knees or we harden our hearts. We pronounce the verdict of Heaven or Hell on ourselves.
- Our son-in-law, Michael Nissim, recently finished a two year effort to translate Arnold Fructenbaum's masterful teaching, The Footsteps of The Messiah," into Hebrew. It has been published from Jerusalem and launched at services in Haifa. We hope and pray that it will lead to the conversion of many Jews to belief in their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.